Two aides to Scott Pruitt detailed to House investigators how the Environmental Protection Agency administrator enlisted them for personal tasks, including job searching for his wife, and pursued first class travel, according to two new reports.
Samantha Dravis, who was Pruitt’s top policy adviser at the EPA, and Pruitt’s chief of staff Ryan Jackson met with the House Oversight Committee last week.
Dravis recalled to investigators how Pruitt asked her to contact the Republican Attorneys General Association about a job for his wife, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing an individual familiar with the situation.
Citing two people with knowledge of Dravis’ interview, The New York Times reported Monday that she told the committee she informed Pruitt that he would have to disclose his wife’s income on federal financial forms and he responded that he would form a limited liability corporation.
Pruitt served as the head of the association previously when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.
According to the Post and the Times, Dravis said she declined reaching out to avoid potentially violating the Hatch Act, which is intended to stop the federal government from affecting elections or going about its activities in a partisan manner.
The former policy adviser also said Pruitt wanted his wife, Marlyn, to secure a job with an annual salary of more than $200,000, according to the Post. Reports last month detailed how Pruitt had enlisted another aide to inquire about a business opportunity for his wife with Chick-fil-A.
The Post reported that Dravis told Hill staffers that Pruitt asked her and another former EPA aide, both of whom are lawyers, to review a rental agreement.
Pruitt’s chief of staff Jackson said he helped Pruitt get in touch with energy lobbyist J. Steven Hart, from whom the administrator rented a room for about $50 a night, according to the Post.
Jackson also said that he and Dravis both raised concerns over putting the administrator in first-class seating, according to the newspaper.
An EPA spokesperson told the Post over email that the agency “has not spoken with Mr. Jackson or Ms. Dravis about their testimony.”
CNN has confirmed that Dravis spoke with House investigators Thursday, while Jackson appeared before the committee Friday. CNN has not viewed transcripts of the two aides’ interviews.
Charli Huddleston, a spokeswoman for House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, told the Post in an email that the committee “plans to wait until the conclusion of our investigation to release our findings.”
In an interview with the Post, Dravis’ attorney, Andrew D. Herman, said his client answered questions “as forthrightly and candidly as she could, and she pushed back on both sides when they were either wrong or pushing their agenda.”
He added to the Post, “I don’t think she was trying to protect anybody, and I don’t think she was trying to hurt anybody, She was giving her view of what happened.”
“Committee counsel explicitly asked me at the beginning of the morning not to reveal what the Committee asked me about,” Jackson told the Post via email. “I don’t know if there’s an obligation to follow that, but I intend to honor that request as long as Committee counsel honors it as well.”
The House Oversight Committee is investigating allegations of misuse of government funds, improper travel, and outsized spending at the EPA. The EPA chief has also been the subject of roughly a dozen other inquiries into his actions at the agency.